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Declaration. Address.

2009 January 22

Richland Hills got voted off the island. Too bad about that both/and philosophy there, Rick. Apparently it’s either/or.

In fairness, note at the bottom of the article that no claim is made that the list in the directory is God’s list of faithful churches. However, it’s outrageous to think of including a list of Churches of Christ without Richland Hills. They still think they’re part of our tribe! They didn’t leave. They just decided to have some a cappella music and some instrumental. The whole autonomous congregation thing, you know.

This would come as a shock to the early leaders of the American Restoration Movement for whom unity was based on a common confession of Christ.

Last night at Highland I heard Doug Foster talk about 1809 (the year of Thomas Campbell’s famous “Declaration and Address”), 1909 (right after a formal split in the movement), and unity plans for 2009.

I look forward to participating in the Great Communion. on October 4.

Here’s a picture from the Great Communion day of 1909:

111 Responses leave one →
  1. January 30, 2009

    Ray B., as to your “where do we go” question, is it possible that the container known to us as “the word of God” contains more than just the written compendium from times long past, including someone’s judgment as to which of those writings qualifies as canonical?

    That is, how would you respond to Dr. Dallas Willard, who teaches that the “knowledge of Christ” container includes three major items, including (a) the written canon (suitably defined, and serving for our purposes as “divine revelation”), (b) empirical knowledge that we gain by experience, and (c) our rational faculties brought to bear on revealed and empirical knowledge, so as to “extend that knowledge to indefinite lengths?” He also teaches that relying on any one of those without the correctives of the other two is bound to lead us into a ditch. How does that strike you, Ray?



  2. Dee permalink
    January 30, 2009

    Thank you, Andrew.

  3. Ray B. permalink
    January 30, 2009

    qb ,
    Very interesting. I know that there will never be total agreement on everything. And yes I ,know there are some who say there is a core teaching , doctrine, truth. My personal confidence comes from inspired revelation. My experiences can be very misleading because they are so subject to emotions. I think my emotions should flow from the knowledge of the word. And yes there have been in the lives of all of us some very special experiences. But do they authenticate the word or do they become an authority set apart from the written revelation and then we find ourselves being subject to the subjective instead of the objective. My greatest concern is that we do not lose the deire to know and be guided by an absolute standard of truth. There was a time when we spoke of a pattern of truth. I know that is subject to being described as legalistic. But all through life we all live with standards and intructions and laws to govern life so it is not chaotic.Because someone chooses to be precise about doctrine does not mean that person has abandoned love and compassion. Just the opposite. That same person will worship God, praise Him and beyond a worship assembly will also feed the hungry , listen to the brokenhearted , etc. while maintaining some serious doctrinal convictions and be firm but loving about those convictions. I guess I become concerned about the extremes that seem to be present in our great and wonderful brotherood and because some have been abusive ( some tell us about abusive churches and jeaopardy churches ; churches that also may still be doing good works ; and I have asked but not had anyone to answer , who is saying that a cappella is the defining characteristic, mark of the church ) others say well let’s just abandon docrtinal precision and concentrate on works of compassion. Why can we not study deep and love with all our hearts as well. Let the historical and doctrinal truth of the divine revelation then become the foundation for the moral and practical.

  4. January 30, 2009

    Ray, we probably have a lot in common. The basic piont to be made here is that although the Scriptures claim (in some readings, anyway) to contain all of God’s truth, there are several counterarguments that may be posed from within Scripture itself. First, God is too great, grand, complex, and mysterious to be contained within the pages of a book, no matter how wonderful that book might be; it probably follows that his will is equally inscrutable.

    Second, the oft-used and shopworn idea that Scripture can be brought explicitly to bear on every human circumstance is demonstrably not so; we have no choice but to reason our way to truth in a wide variety of settings. (That’s the dirty little secret about the “necessary inference” component of CENI-based hermeneutics.) So we have no choice to put revealed truths together in syllogisms of sorts in order to reach useful inferences about things not explicitly addressed in Scripture (ethical solutions to problems posed by modern genetics technology, for example). Scripture by itself cannot stand as the full counsel of God aside from reasoning with it to determine applications beyond the scope of specific revelation.

    Anyway, I share your desire that we love and pursue truth. I might quarrel some with the idea of a pattern, but I take your piont and harbor no delusions that an affinity to truth patterns in the Scriptures somehow excludes kindness, love, compassion, and other Christlike virtues. So carry on, and peace to you.


  5. tim permalink
    January 31, 2009

    this whole conversation is sad.

  6. Geezer permalink
    January 31, 2009

    Ray and Andrew: I trust y’all are sincere in desiring to know how to understand and interpret scripture. Ray has spoken of doctrinal precision and I think he is applying to a doctrine of silence that is most unevenly applied. In this case, what some understand as the silence of scripture regarding IM in the church is taken as prohibitive though many other things about which scripture is “silent” are deemed permissible. Thus, some of us think the real weight for this position falls on a tradition rather than a good understanding of scripture.

    If y’all are truly interested in how the CofC came to this understanding regarding IM as well as how we got and maintained our hermeneutics, I strongly recommend John Mark Hicks blog – just google him – you’ll find it and all his material is available if you search for it. He did a wonderful series on hermeneutics in the Stone Campbell movement during 2008. Each part can be read in about 10 minutes and you could spend the rest of the day mulling it over as times allows. Then you might want to read the next section the following day and mull it over. In a week or so you would have a much better understand of how some other well educated and sincere disciples of Jesus understand scripture. (Please take this as only one suggested way you could do this. I don’t intent to dictate how you do you do your personal study.) You may also consider purchasing a book on hermeneutics. I believe there are some good ones written by conservative scholars.

  7. Geezer permalink
    January 31, 2009

    Here is a link to part I of Stone Campbell Hermeneutics if anyone is interested:

  8. Ray B. permalink
    January 31, 2009

    Geezer ,
    Thank you for your good suggestion. No , I have not looked at scripture from the silence concept or tradition except for the tradition of scripture.
    qb ,
    Thank you for your excellent thoughts. This has been a good and healthy discussion.

  9. Andrew permalink
    January 31, 2009

    Geezer –
    I am definitely sincere in my desire to learn more about God’s Word, and I appreciate the suggestions. John Mark Hicks is an excellent scholar. I guess my question is not really about the history of how we got to this point, but what do we do the passages mentioned earlier? I believe I am relying not only on the silence of New Testament scripture on instrumental music, but also God’s specificity about the worship we see in the New Testament. I think we all see the silence of scripture as being prohibitive to some degree (we could probably come up with several things we shouldn’t do in worship about which the New Testament is silent)- it seems like the difficulty lies in determining what is or is not prohibited by that silence. I would like to know more about the “good understanding of scripture” which would stand against the traditional view. I have heard some disagree with the “traditional” opinion, yet never explaining how they arrived at that conclusion, so I would love to see some specifics. Thanks for the comments!

    Tim –
    In many ways, I think I understand your frustration. Yet, I do think it is also good for those who disagree to be able to discuss it in a way that could be civil and fruitful. I would love to see more such discussions among members of the Church of Christ. I appreciate your patience.

  10. January 31, 2009

    I like where Ray B. says “My personal confidence comes from inspired revelation.” On certain topics such as IM, many have personal confidence in their stance. There is definitely a wide range of inspired revelation giving this confidence, however. Some find their inspiration in the silence of NT scripture. Some in the NT wording of “singing from the heart”. Personally, I get my confidence from Isaiah 38:20, which inspires me to enjoy IM.

    So, whether your personal confidence moves you towards acceptance, prohibition, or simply preference regarding IM —- it directs us all to the absolute meaning of Galatians 3:27-29.

    Thanks for the spirited discussion, folks!

  11. Geezer permalink
    February 3, 2009

    Why Care About Church History or Historical Theology? – a recont post by John Mark Hicks on his blog. Please see the link:

    This is a brief (about three minutes) but very good read for all. It is especially good for anyone that does not recognize the value of knowing church history, especially our own church history. How we handle scripture today is heavily influenced by how those that preceded us handled scripture.

    It would be a shame to do something and insist it was the right way to do it without having a good understanding of how/why our forebears came to that conclusion, but I beleive it happens frequently.

    One of the things we learn from the study of history is that we don’t learn from the study of history.

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